While the world has been responding to the coronavirus pandemic, domestic abuse charities have spent recent months dealing with the ‘shadow pandemic’ of domestic abuse, as lockdown restrictions left individuals trapped at home with their abusers. Just as national domestic abuse helplines received record numbers of calls, Cyfannol Women’s Aid has also witnessed a spike in people seeking support.
We supported 50% more people during lockdown than in the same period last year. Staff dealing with calls and ‘drop ins’ in their Newport, Monmouthshire and Torfaen offices have seen increases in both the severity of the reported abuse and complexity of individuals’ situations.
With the COVID-19 crisis highlighting the need for this domestic abuse crisis support, Cyfannol, helped by Welsh Women’s Aid, has secured funding from Comic Relief to open a new office in Blaenau Gwent.
Based in the Ebbw Vale Institute (EVI), this new office space offers crisis support in person (currently via appointment) and over the phone to anyone experiencing domestic abuse in Blaenau Gwent. It also offers a local site for appointments for anyone accessing our Horizon sexual violence counselling and ISVA services in this area.
The office officially opened on September 7th 2020, with a team of ten staff using EVI as their base.
Suzanne Dennehy, Blaenau Gwent Area Manager for Cyfannol Women’s Aid, said: “As an organisation, we are constantly adapting our services to meet the needs of adults and children who need support. We’re delighted to now be able to offer drop-in and phone support, in addition to our existing domestic abuse services in Blaenau Gwent, thanks to Comic Relief. EVI offers so much scope for us, in terms of service delivery and increased accessibility, and, as a multi-agency centre, fits with our ethos: Together we are stronger!
We know that anyone can be affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence, regardless of age, gender, sexuality or social background, and the pandemic has shone a spotlight on just how many people suffer behind closed doors. We urge anyone experiencing any form of domestic abuse or sexual violence in Gwent to contact their local Cyfannol office, the Live Fear Free helpline, or to call 999 if they are in immediate danger.”
Contact Cyfannol Women’s Aid: https://cyfannol.org.uk/contact
Live Fear Free helpline: https://gov.wales/live-fear-free